HEALING THE SPIRIT | INSTILLING HOPE
The Gaza Mental Health Foundation is an all-volunteer group which raises funds and provides training to support the critical work of the Gaza Community Mental Health Programme and other independent, non-sectarian mental health and women’s empowerment groups in the Gaza Strip. We are a 501c3 nonprofit based in the United States.
Gaza’s population, nearing two million people, is mostly refugees, with main influxes of people fleeing into the tiny Gaza Strip in 1948 and 1967, from the metro Jaffa/Tel Aviv area and nearby. From the Gaza Strip, much lesser populated areas just outside, the areas from whence people fled, are easily visible. Gaza has been under a siege of varying intensity for a quarter century.
- New York Times Photo of Gaza Fatalities 2014
- Infant Injured by Israeli Attacks on Gaza
- Families Need Mental Health Services Due to Conflict
- Child in Gaza Beside Destroyed Home
- Palestinian Child in Gaza
- Boy in Gaza Receiving Services
Appeals to the caring world community for funds for mental health services in the Gaza Strip have become common in recent years, all of which are of some help. A primary responsibility of Gaza Community Mental Health Programme (GCMHP)—the most experienced concentration (70 staff) of trained mental health professionals—is how to best continually renew and update as-comprehensive-as-possible strategies for the entire population of 1.9 million people, given the mushrooming population, deteriorating infrastructure, ongoing attacks, and recent beginnings of various narrow, usually overwhelmed and often very short-term mental health appeals by allied organizations.
The Gaza Community Mental Health Programme started with Gaza’s first psychiatrist and has grown over decades as the Strip’s “mental health backbone,” training hundreds of workers now serving in those other allied primary care, school, NGO and grassroots organizations, coaching and supervising such organizations’ care as much as possible for the whole population of the Strip, as well as then taking the many hardest cases which the lesser-experienced organizations are unable to care for.
GCMHP’s primary European donor consortium has shifted significant supports to Syrian refugees, which in tandem with many new people identified as needing services by those other specialty organizations recently beginning mental health services, gives a very high need for GCMHP funding for broad Strip-wide training and supports to children and families directly as well as indirectly, via those rudimentary and highly stressed mental health/healthcare/human services organizations which do manage to continue operating.
Please help us support the Gaza Community Mental Health Programme and its related Women’s Empowerment Programs in continuing to serve a central and foundational role in mental health throughout Gaza, beyond short-term and narrow-scope appeals!
The Gaza Mental Health Foundation was founded in the United States in 2001 to support the critically important work of providing mental health services for the people of the Gaza Strip, especially the children who are its future. We raise funds to support the important mental health work of several agencies in Gaza.
- mental health work carried out by the Gaza Community Mental Health Program (GCMHP)
- Afaq Jadeeda’s children’s therapy program, “Let the Children Play and Heal,” in Nusseirat refugee camp, founded by Dr. Mona El-Farra
- three women’s empowerment groups—Aisha, Al Zahraa and Wefaq—whose services reach throughout the Gaza Strip.
Given the huge number of traumatized children and families in the Gaza Strip, and the trauma endured by the GCMHP staff, your support is needed more urgently than ever.
The 51 day July-August 2014 war in the area inflicted a new and unprecedented humanitarian calamity that has taken the lives of over 2,200 people in Gaza, 70 percent of them civilians, including more than 500 children, further destroying the critical infrastructure, and denying hundreds of thousands of people access to sufficient water, food, sanitation, and shelter.
The Gaza Mental Health Foundation Inc. provides support for the Gaza Community Mental Health Program (GCMHP), Women’s Empowerment Programs which incubated inside GCMHP and became independent in 2010, and a grassroots womens’-children-family program, “Let the Children Play and Heal” of New Horizons (Afaq Jadeedah) in the Strip’s Middle Area. GCMHP was established in 1990 by Dr. Eyad el-Sarraj to meet the mental health needs of people who were exposed on a daily basis to humiliation, loss of freedom, injury, detention, destruction of homes and the loss of family members.
Psychiatrist Yasser Abu Jamei, MD has been leading GCMHP since Dr El Sarraj’s 2013 death. Much of GCMHP’s work is directed at helping traumatized children, women who are victims of violence, and the victims of torture, which they are able to do through crisis intervention and ongoing services, as well as leading training and coordination of mental health services throughout Gaza. A 2003 survey by GCMHP revealed that only 2% of children in the Gaza Strip displayed no symptoms of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.
The GCMHP has dozens of staff, a main facility and research center in Gaza City, and community mental health clinics in Gaza City, Khan Younis, the Deir el-Balah refugee camp, and the Jabalya refugee camp. It has also established the Rachel Corrie Women’s Empowerment Project as well as crisis
intervention programs, a rehabilitation program for drug abusers, a Children’s Project, and a Training and Education Department that offers a postgraduate diploma in Community Mental Health and Human Rights and courses for teachers and nurses. It has given individual psychiatric and family therapy to tens of thousands of people. Through its crisis interventions, trainings, hospital, school and prison visits, and public awareness campaigns, it has reached one in ten people in the Gaza Strip.
The Gaza Strip, 26 miles long and only a few miles wide, is home to almost two million Palestinians, half below the age of 14. Two thirds are refugees, many of whom live in eight densely-crowded refugee camps. Seven thousand Israeli settlers had lived in 18 armed settlements in a “security zone” before they were evacuated in 2005. Since the evacuation, Israel has kept the Gaza Strip largely sealed off from the world, destroying its economy and the hopes of people for a better future.
Restrictions imposed on Gaza during Israel’s 50-year-long occupation have condemned Palestinians to a life of extreme poverty, destitution and the systematic violation of their human rights. The first intifada, or uprising, against the Israeli occupation began in a Gaza refugee camp in 1987 and lasted until 1993. Nonviolent demonstrators, young stone-throwers, and the broader community faced military repression, curfews, night raids, forced expulsions, land seizures, and border closures that brought the economy to a halt. More than 100,000 Palestinians were imprisoned by Israel during the first intifada and most were tortured during interrogation.
During the second intifada that began in September 2000, the Israeli army repeatedly used heavy armaments, including tanks, F16s, and helicopter gunships, against a defenseless civilian population. More than 4,200 Palestinians had been killed by mid-2007. Over 1,000 homes have been destroyed in the Gaza Strip’s Rafah refugee camp alone, leaving 20,000 people homeless. The indiscriminate killing and destruction, the massive physical and psychological injuries, the devastation of the land, homes and the economy, are bound to have a lasting and severe impact on Palestinian society.
It is difficult to imagine a future in which Palestinians and Israelis can one day live peacefully together without the work of the GCMHP. What it is doing to break the cycle of violence engendered by occupation needs our support.
GMHF BOARD OF DIRECTORS
- Devin Atallah
- J. Timothy Davis
- Donald McInnes, Treasurer
- Othman Mohammad
- Nancy Murray
- Hilary Rantisi, Clerk
- Alice Rothchild
- Sara Roy
- Bill Slaughter, President
GMHF ADVISORY PANEL
- Donna Baranski-Walker
- Brian Barber
- Cindy Corrie
- Craig Corrie
- Bill Dienst
- Jess Ghannam
- Ellis Goldberg
- Elaine Hagopian
- David Hall
- Bahar Hashemi
- Gerri Haynes
- Desmond Kaplan
- Marwan El-Masri
- Diab Mustafa
- Ayman Nijim
- Ted Rynearson
- Therese Saliba
- Steve Sosebee
- Ahmed Taha
- David Trimble
- John Van Eenwyk
Contact us by mail:
Gaza Mental Health Foundation
PO Box 380273
Cambridge, MA 02238